By Tommy Rowan
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) There is hope and help for drivers who are too scared to drive over bridges.
Most people look at a bridge and see the obvious way to get to the other side. Some people look at the same bridge and see a death-dealing monster blocking the way.
Every year, motorists by the hundreds, paralyzed by an unusual fear, are rendered incapable of driving their own vehicles over area spans. Their terror knows no season, but for many of the stricken, summer is the cruelest, as the beach beckons from the other side of a bridge too far.
They can panic and head for the Poconos. Or they can make a call.
Drivers in mortal dread of crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge, connecting New Castle, Del., and Pennsville, N.J., can turn to the Acrophobia Escorts program, named after the fear of heights. Patrolmen meet them at the head of the bridge, then drive their cars across for them.
“Once they’re in the passenger seat,” said Patrolman Steve Burkhead, “that tends to be the only medication they need.”
The Delaware River Port Authority — whose four bridges linking Pennsylvania and New Jersey include those major Shore arteries, the Ben Franklin and the Walt Whitman — also will help drivers in trouble, though it’s not standard operating procedure.
At the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the phobic are not as rare as one might expect, with 323 transports in 2017 and 468 the year before.
About 60 percent are repeat customers, according to Col. Richard Arroyo of the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the twin suspension bridges; some regulars call ahead to schedule appointments when they know they will be traveling to the area. Men are just as scared as women, millennials as bridge-shy as boomers.